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Outside lawyer to lead Rolls Royce bribery probe

Rolls-Royce appointed an outside lawyer to investigate allegations of overseas bribery in China and Indonesia.

David Gold, described by Reuters as ‘a Conservative life peer in Britain’s House of Lords,’ was formerly a member of the London-based law firm Herbert Smith.

Reuters said he’ll report to Roll Royce’s ethics committee of the board.

In December, the BBC said jet engine maker Rolls Royce was in talks with the U.K. Serious Fraud Office regarding allegations of bribery and corruption in Indonesia and China.

Chief Executive John Rishton was quoted then as saying, ‘I want to make it crystal clear that neither I nor the board will tolerate improper business conduct of any sort and will take all necessary action to ensure compliance. This is a company with exceptional prospects, and I will not accept any behaviour that undermines its future success.’

Another British aerospace firm, BAE Systems plc, pleaded guilty in 2010 in U.S. federal court to one count of conspiracy. It admitted lying about its Foreign Corrupt Practices Act compliance program. The company paid a $400 million criminal fine. It also paid £30 million to resolve related charges brought by the SFO.

Recent allegations by anonymous bloggers in China tied Rolls Royce to payments passed to an executive of Air China and China Eastern Airlines.
Chen Qin, who worked for both airlines, allegedly acted as Rolls-Royce’s intermediary in two deals inked in 2005 and 2010, worth $2 billion in all.

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